“I was taken on, sir, at forty dollars a month, as a starter,” Tom replied.
“A young man with your size of head is worth more than that to the company. We’ll call it fifty a month, Reade, and keep our eyes on you for signs of further improvement,” said the chief engineer, as he turned to go back to his own waiting dinner.
THE BITE FROM THE BUSH
From the time that they parted in the morning, until they started to go back to camp in the afternoon, Tom and Harry did not meet the next day. Each, with his chainmen, was served from Bob’s burro train at noon.
“Did you see Bad Pete today?” was Harry’s greeting, as they Started back over the trail.
“Did you hear from him or of him in any way?” pressed Hazelton.
“Not a sign of any sort from Peter,” Tom went on. “I’ve a theory as to what’s keeping him away. He’s on a journey.”
“Yes; between you and me, I believe that Peter has gone in search of someone who can sell him, or give him, a few forty-five cartridges.”
“He’d better apply to you, then, Tom,” grinned Harry.
“Why, I couldn’t sell him any,” Tom replied.
“What did you do with those you had last night?”
“You remember the unfordable pond that came in one of my courses yesterday?”
“To-day I threw all of Peter’s .45’s into the middle of the pond. They must have sunk a foot into the mud by this time.”
“Seriously, Tom, don’t you believe that you’d better take one of the revolvers that I bought and wear it on a belt?”
“Not I,” retorted Reade. “Harry, I wish you could get that sort of foolishness out of your head. A revolver is of no possible use to a man who hasn’t any killing to do. I’m trying to learn to be a civil engineer, not a man-killer.”
“Then I believe that Bad Pete will ‘get’ you one of these days,” sighed Hazelton.
“Wait until he does,” smiled Tom. “Then you can have the fun of coming around and saying ‘I told you so.’”
Their chainmen were ahead of the “cub” engineers on the trail. Tom and Harry were talking earnestly when they heard a pony’s hoofs behind them. Hazelton turned with a start.
“Oh, it’s Rutter mounted,” Hazelton said, with a sigh of relief. “I was afraid it was Bad Pete.”
“Take my word for it, Harry. Peter is a good deal of a coward. He won’t dare to show up until he has some real cartridges. The temperance kind do not give a man like Peter any real sense of security in the world.”
Rutter rode along on his sure-footed mountain pony at a rapid jog. When he came close, Tom and Harry stepped aside into the brush to let him go by on the narrow trail.
“Don’t get off into the brush that way,” yelled Rutter from the distance.